Trautman Family Farm

  (stoughton, Wisconsin)
The Grass-Organic Life in Wisconsin!
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Risk factors I see

I have gotten a number of responses about 'risk factors'.

There are some patterns amongst them.

I think you'll find patterns in my risk factors, consistent thought processes.

Today I'll start on what I believe the major risk factors are. For us. Not others; us. Because ultimately, all I can do is here. I can suggest, I can influence, but I have found, others are going to do what they're going to do & justify it to themselves however they are. Walking bubbles of perfection; far too many of them.

I'm finding it interesting that not a single sanitarian has bothered/graced us/whatever any kind of response to risk factors. Funny how lazy they are. Relying on dogma; I wonder if you asked them just how well they could explain - well - anything - how much they've truly thought about any of it. Lazy thinking. Just rely on what someone else told you, then keep repeating it, maybe that will make it the truth. We shall see!

These are the top 5 risk factors I have identified. I will give my solutions to the risk factors that others have sent me; a lot of them are beyond themselves, things others need to do. I wish more would have focused on themselves and what they could do, not what everyone else needed to do, because they just aren't going to be able to do much about it. Like our healthcare. Sit around and bitch about how everyone else ought be doing something. There is no progress there until we take it unto ourselves and start with us. Folks, it is a habit, hard to establish but worth it.

Well, I am starting with us.

#1: Cows as carriers of pathogens and putting them out in the milk

a) I question the basis of the premise. With any of 'their' talk, WHAT cows are they talking about? Confinement, poor immune system, stressed animals. I want them to pony up the hard data that says any cow under any circumstance will shed pathogens in the milk at any time. That is ridiculous.

We're talking "Typhoid Mary" type of situation. Scary stuff. So let's even examine Typhoid Mary - a long long time ago, she spread it around a lot. Funny though, why isn't there thousands and thousands like her; if there were, why aren't we all dead. So: being a carrier without being ill is exceptionally rare. Have any of our sanitarians examined this, for relevance? Very very doubtful, as what they would find, in a healthy, not pushed herd, the probability of them being a carrier is very, very low. Fluke low; hit by lightening and less low. So even though it is number one on my list - it's there because of my perception in what is being said, this is the major 'cause' of potential outbreaks.

So, I reject the premise, but so what if I accept the premise. What can I do?

1. Healthy animals would have very reduced probability of cause. HOW much, is the debate. The enemies of family dairy farmers don't want you thinking about the probabilities; they throw up their hands and say it's just too risky, then refuse to talk or think about what that risk is, and how it compares to any other risk.

Healthy animals: As in track history. If you were looking for raw milk, what do you know about the track history of your farmer. The cows look fine today when I'm out there looking at them; with that, what would I really know (as an uneducated consumer) to know the difference. What would I look for? If they're standing around in crap and looking very miserable, that is obvious. I would hope any idiot could figure that out. But who is going to show you sick cows? Who is going to pull out the health records and SHOW you just how healthy their animals are?

I am.

And I'm going to have it confirmed by those in the know.

a) my veterinarians. They know healthy herds. They know good management. Early on in this whole 'thing', I had my vet out to look at our cows, giving each a thorough examination. Only thing she could find is feet need trimming (I agree).

b) my organic certifier. Some say, I don't need to be certified organic, I let my customers 'certify' me. Well, yes, that is great. But what sophistication are those 'certifiers'. I am here to tell you - you wouldn't have to be that smart to completely pull the wool over the eyes of 99.9% of consumers. Organic certifiers are professionals, and have ways of figuring out if you are cheating.

I for one WELCOME the scrutiny by professionals of what we are doing. Bring it on. Teach me something in fact.

I have a story about that from back in the Internet days. A person calls me, owner of the company to tell me how thrilled she was with tech support person x. "They stayed on the phone with her for hours solving this problem". Okay, thank you much. I checked into it. That poor person did not need to be on the phone for hours - my tech was under trained and put her through a whole bunch of unnecessary stuff when the solution was but a few moments of her and our time away. So I did NOT just sit and think, boy do I have great support, I examined further to REALLY give good support. That's the same type of thing we get with farms. What you SEE, what you are TOLD sounds really great. But who's going under the hood to find out what is really going on. That organic certifier is. The paperwork will show it. The rules insist on it. I like that a lot.

Regular non-organic dairies? Let me show you some "Grade A" dairies - in fact, I'm certain I will - because our DATCP Food Safety simply cannot allow a hell hole like our farm to be Grade A, when the truth is they know damn well that we beat out 95% of ALL Grade A dairies in the state. This is them using their power for evil, period. Well, we shall see about this, we really will, we'll get a clear view of the level of professionalism Food Safety shows, and what that coveted "Grade A" really means. Me thinks you'll want to throw the bums out and start fresh.

Back to the issue - cows carrying pathogens. Rebuke the idea that their is any reasonable evidence anywhere to show that healthy - long term healthy - cows, not as they stand right this minute, but long term healthy cows - do not carry pathogens and shed them.

What can cause them to shed pathogens, presumably? Situations - generally of stress - where their immune systems are lowered or otherwise taxed. For a cow - directly after she's fresh for that first month or so is a stressful time. Any environmental stress, or herd stress. Solution? Minimize the stress; strong immune systems (as shown through long term health) and the possibility of testing during these stressful times. Test randomly all the time? Silliness. It will be suggested, and the purpose won't be to find solutions, it will be to drain the farmer of money to make the milk more expensive. It will solve no problems. You will find that absolutely consistent amongst our sanitarians, especially as is concerned with raw milk. Bleed the farmer to death. FDA has tried that with Mark McAffee at Organic Pastures. They will try it with us.

I would propose:

1. establish just what probability there is that any given proven healthy over time cow will carry and shed pathogens. That is study. What we'll find though, from our University, is a complete lack of interest in this study. Alright, then let's take a closer look at what they are interested in studying, and who that benefits. Look - very - closely. Maybe not just their leader ought go to the dairy industry. Maybe the whole lot of them should work for the dairy industry, since they are already and we are paying for them to do so and have this lack of curiosity about anything WE the PEOPLE care about.

2. Assuming there is some kind of reasonable probability and circumstances, when should testing be done. Most likely in times of stress. Post-fresh would be the best time. I would look at ways to put milk samples together over time and test them to get the highest probability of finding any pathogen. Not just on one particular day. A sensible testing protocol with the highest probability of finding a problem with reasonable certainty.

3. Establish just what is considered a healthy cow. Today? This week? This year? Our calves, for example, have never been sick a day in their lives. Our very first, born here on the farm, has now come into the milk line. NEVER - BEEN - SICK - A - DAY in it's LIFE. Someone explain to me how it is reasonable to believe that cow would shed pathogens. That's right, it is not reasonable one bit. So we won't have a conversation with our sanitarians about that, now will we?

Major risk factor #2: "crap in the milk" - I will talk about that next time.

Notice a pattern from my side - and 'their' side. We are about solutions and sense. They are about fear and 'can't get their from here'. Would you hire any of these people for a job? "Can't be done" is what they say. Ahh, you will make a great little worker there, won't you? Nope, they sure wouldn't. Chances are if they weren't working where they were, they'd do what? Dig ditches? The ground is simply too hard, not worth even sticking the shovel in there. Ahh. That's the kind of Food Safety people we have. Real beauts.

PROUD Wisconsin Dairyman - Scott Trautman

 
 

Risk Factors

We all talk about it. A lot.

They all talk about it. A lot.

Time to focus the attention on the problem. I want opinions.

I want to know what a good cross section of people think on this. I bet it's real interesting. And I will let you know the results.

Please indicate to me some idea of who you are. Health official, University researcher, farmer, consumer, activist, nutcase, oddball, weirdo, fascist, idiot (okay I'm getting a little off track here and amusing myself)

But really. What is your source of inspiration for your opinion.

Rank for me your idea of what the largest to smallest risk factors in raw milk are. For those of you that think there are no risks, well, you are fools. For those of you that just say don't drink raw milk, the same. Fools. You've got an opinion - risk factors that make the possibility of raw milk making people sick - rank them. Start with 1 as the highest risk, and end with 5.

Five reasons is all; anyone's that thought about this at all ought be able to come up with five risk factors.

Drop me an email at scott@trautman.net

Please include "Raw Milk Risk Factors" in the subject line. Don't bother sending me a bunch of garbage. Don't go on forever about it. List out the risk factors, and if you feel like you need to explain it, then great, but no War&Peace epic. And indicate your place in all this, what perspective you have.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Scott Trautman - despite the very best efforts of the State of Wisconsin - STILL proud Wisconsin Dairyman
 
 

Risk factors

We all talk about it. A lot.

They all talk about it. A lot.

Time to focus the attention on the problem. I want opinions.

I want to know what a good cross section of people think on this. I bet it's real interesting. And I will let you know the results.

Please indicate to me some idea of who you are. Health official, University researcher, farmer, consumer, activist, nutcase, oddball, weirdo, fascist, idiot (okay I'm getting a little off track here and amusing myself)

But really. What is your source of inspiration for your opinion.

Rank for me your idea of what the largest to smallest risk factors in raw milk are. For those of you that think there are no risks, well, you are fools. For those of you that just say don't drink raw milk, the same. Fools. You've got an opinion - risk factors that make the possibility of raw milk making people sick - rank them. Start with 1 as the highest risk, and end with 5.

Five reasons is all; anyone's that thought about this at all ought be able to come up with five risk factors.

Drop me an email at scott@trautman.net

Please include "Raw Milk Risk Factors" in the subject line. Don't bother sending me a bunch of garbage. Don't go on forever about it. List out the risk factors, and if you feel like you need to explain it, then great, but no War&Peace epic. And indicate your place in all this, what perspective you have.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Scott Trautman - despite the very best efforts of the State of Wisconsin - STILL proud Wisconsin Dairyman

 
 

Reflections on the International Raw Milk Symposium

No matter what happens - all is as it should be. It is up to us to learn the lessons we need to such that there is efficiency - learning - growth - adaptation in the lesson. Otherwise when bad things happen, it is just a bad thing.

This past weekend nothing but good things happened. And yet we do not rest on our laurels and decide that we nailed it, just do that in the future. And this is good training in our minds to adapt and grow as we need to.

The enemies of raw milk sure will. We need to be smarter, more agile, less ego bound, less delusional, more committed than them. You mean we are not perfect? Of course we are not. We are human. We have motivated extraordinary people: Now let's cultivate them, feed them - grow them. And all signs I see - everything I would be a part of - show that.

I've now had some time to reflect on what the symposium was, how I feel about it beyond the feel-good of it.

The thing that struck me is the differences between what is the 'us' and the 'them'.

Our 'us' - healthy, enthusiastic, optimistic. And this is important for those that would look at us and wonder whether they should become involved. Look at us closely. Would you be more like us - or more like them. Yes indeed, proximity - you will catch our energy. It is impossible for me or others like Michael and Mark not to 'infect' or to 'send' you our energy. But - what is the source of our energy? We feed from your energy - we create energy in you - and we feed from the energy you create for us. As much as our enemies would have you believe otherwise - health, hope- independence - happiness - follow us.

What follows them? Project out into the future what lives their followers will live.

Look to the people even here in Wisconsin that would be our enemies. A lot of not all that healthy people in not that healthy families. And getting worse. Not gaining energy or momentum. Subtly in time - they are being drained, as we gain energy. More doctors, more drugs, more of a system that is not working. Who up there will break? Who there that sees us - and is secretly envious - that wants what we have - even despite all that is done to us - we refuse to give in to fear. There is a future for us. What we do is not just our job - it is who we are. They have to separate themselves from 'what they do for a living' and who they are. To not: They would go mad. So one wonders across that group compared to ours. Just how many doctors visits, how many drugs they take, and then us. None of my family takes anything. We don't claim perfect health. But we are thriving - as are those that believe as we do. They don't - they won't look at our group because they know what they will find.

And what you saw from the crowd at the Symposium - if you were an insurer there - a guy that makes risk decisions - you would say to yourself - I can make money on insuring this group. We will make out like bandits in fact - vs. "them". Add it up. These people don't give into the easy give-me-a-pill for whatever symptom I'm addressing. We solve problems - we seek true health - and we have found it.

Our challenge is how to get to the people most effectively. Those that are sick, in fear - under the influence of those that would keep them in bondage for their entire lives. On drugs, taking their good money and shifting it to 'their' pockets.

Where on our side - we create wealth - when, for example, we farm right. We create incredible wealth out of nothing - out of sunlight, water, air.

'Them': Healthcare: it is shifting YOUR wealth into someone elses pocket. Not efficient. Not supporting a brighter future. Cynical. Parasitic. Ultimately evil and destructive.

As we go forward - our opponents - as we see here in Wisconsin - will see the truth - see the danger in what we represent to them - and they will use their money - their resources - their lies ever more to crush us. But that's where I wonder about their 'soldiers'. The people they rely on to do their dirty work - good people - trying to convince themselves they need this job more than they need their pride. Some drink it away. Some need pills to live with themselves. Entertainments to distract those nagging thoughts in their heads. And some - some will say enough - and know there is right and wrong, good and evil - and they cannot continue - survive - or say the empty words - that they love their children while they themselves are soldiers in the destruction of their own children's future.

Any time they choose - one here - one there - then more - paradigm shift - a stripping away of cynicism - you are welcome here. Come to us. It will take courage - but as I evaluate all of this and look at the costs: Is it worth it? It is the only thing I have ever done truly worth it. The rest has been training, the rest has been baubles, amusements, distractions to the truth.

All of you: Come join us. Be free, be healthy be happy: It is the most radical thing we can do.

I am Scott Trautman: Despite the very best efforts of the State of Wisconsin, STILL A PROUD WISCONSIN DAIRYMAN

 
 

The work is just beginning: Countdown to Legal Raw Milk in Wisconsin

It's out of committee. It's being readied to vote on the floor. Then signed by the governor. Exciting times. Nerve wracking times. Time to farm: And I am distracted from the task at hand which is to seed hay, pasture, oats, oats&peas, spread compost, fieldwork, long days. And yet here I am.

The hard work has yet to be done.

How important the next 20 months are - to getting the permanent law we really want - NOW is the time we need to come together like never before - in safety, with pride and confidence.

Wisconsin's Proud Family Dairymen.

We have been, and we will - make all of Wisconsin proud; all the world, when Raw milk becomes legal.

We can do this safely. We can save farms. We can help people.

Stay tuned here. There is certainly more coming. There is leadership, there is more farmers, better farmers, a time like none you've seen before: Happy farmers, happy Wisconsin

PROUD WISCONSIN DAIRYMAN

Scott Trautman

 
 

Fooling Yourself (angry young man)

Styx "Fooling Yourself"

Written by tommy shaw
Lead vocals by tommy shaw

You see the world through your cynical eyes
You’re a troubled young man I can tell
You’ve got it all in the palm of your hand
But your hand’s wet with sweat and your head needs a rest

And you’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it
How can you be such an angry young man
When your future looks quite bright to me
How can there be such a sinister plan
That could hide such a lamb, such a caring young man

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it
Come on, let’s see what you’ve got
Just take your best shot and don’t blow it

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re killing yourself if you don’t believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it
Come on, let’s see what you’ve got
Just take your best shot and don’t blow it

 
 

Dream Farm

Note from Scott: I started this quite some time ago. I have been thinking about it almost constantly. This, as you will see, becomes a note very much directed towards our immediate neighbors. A neighborhood who has almost entirely rejected our farm. Rejected as in supported in a meaningful way, as in purchases from our farm. Support as in, we love what you do, and will enjoy it, but only as long as it's free. Well you get the idea about how I feel on that. I'm not sitting here thinking about saving the world. I'm sitting here thinking about how I create a small world here in which my children WANT to stay here. And that of necessity includes "off the farm" - our neighbors. So back to what I wrote some time ago, and then finished here this windy, rainy March morning. - Scott

 This winter continues to drag on; I think even the snowmobilers and skiers are sick of it by now. A long, cold winter. I think spring will be extra celebrated this year; much frolicking. I must again dispel the rumor that the Trautman Men at dusk of the first full moon of spring, will whoop and holler and run the perimeter of the farm naked in celebration. Simply not true. But I sure like the idea of people talking it up. So carry on.

So other than honing our sense of humor, keeping warm, taking care of animals, what do we do. Not, unfortunately, taking vacations; not this year anyway. I can speak for myself, and I read, and I plan and I dream. What I choose to read affects my plans and dreams, and I do plan for my dreams to come true -- if only 20 years into the future. Maybe further. I don't spend a lot of time on doom and gloom, I can get that almost anywhere. I choose to put my thoughts towards the future I want. While the general attitude is one of gloom, I am hopeful. So are many others. Not coincidentally, many of them are organic farmers.

My friend Willi Lehner taught me to "not invest yourself in any particular outcome". Which the more I thought about it, is an adjunct to my existing philosophy of "not being invested in any particular idea", which I have said time and again in regards to our farming experience. I use it to refer to the deep groove of thinking many have -- ideas they accept without question, that form the foundation for the rest of their ideas (about farming), which all makes sense -- IF you accept the initial premise. And one deep societal groove of thinking is: Small Farms Don't Work. Get Big or Get Out. That last part can be attributed to one of the great evil people, surely boiling in hell if there is one, Earl Butz. He was owned by the agricultural businesses; the processors and the fertilizer and chemical makers. Imagine that; what he said sounded folksy and had a certain jingle to it, but the effects (he was the driving force behind what continues to be very, bad farm programs/policy) continue today.

Which isn't to say I believe, either, that as farmers we should be propped up to do whatever damn fool thing we want because it is somehow a right, when we're talking the 'family farm', to do stupid things and be paid well for the privilege just because it's a family farm. No, we DO need to adapt, and the age of the incompetent, dull farmer being propped up are indeed over. There have been and will be smart people with dreams and a willingness to work hard to take the place of the dullard and the whiner. They will be businesspeople, they will have ideals, they will like people, they will care about the earth, their community, their families and their own dignity. They will do what it takes to preserve the right to say NO. No, that is not what I want for my farm. NO, that is not good advice from you university jackasses, NO I will not take that price, NO I will not crawl in on my belly and take what you give me. We will have mutual, long term benefit or we will part ways.

Three important principles need be implemented to make sure we are in a good negotiating position -- and that is the ability to say NO.

1. Soils that produce plenty without aid of yearly fertilizers/chemicals. Soils that have been invested in to bring them back to near the quality of our native, fertile soils. Humus rebuilt, balance regained, soil life abundant and diverse. There is no quick solution, but we know how to accelerate the system. Come to our farm to see what 6 years of work can do. Then think out 20 years. And 30.

2. Minds that are always yearning for the truth; a culture of learning and honesty with each other that things just don't "happen", we take responsibility for them. We will find we don't need the crutches agribusiness offers us, for shorterm gain and longterm poverty. We will have the wisdom to think out 20 years, and beyond this single season. We will question those that have brought us to this place: the flunkies at the universities, agribusiness who's sole heartless goal is to take all the money they can. The ability to intellectually say NO, I don't buy that idea, it is contrary to nature. I trust nature got it right the first time. I need the humility to listen.

3. If we truly embrace the above, this will be easy. That is 'putting aside': putting our money away, not spending it like agribusiness would like, every last penny, every year, but putting aside to provide us the leverage to say NO. One can't say no, if one can't stick with it. It's empty and those we 'negotiate' with know it. They smile, and pretend along with us that we're important, but they know, and we can't escape the reality in the situation around us that farmers cannot say no to any price offered us. We need the money.

The community I dream of -- here -- in Stoughton, WI -- is one that celebrates our agricultural heritage and practitioners as it once did. Well that's living in the past! It was a good past -- and it was pulled from us by us. We decided on mass production over people, here and now over people, illusion of wealth over people. Our current economic situation -- and surely situations yet to come -- are a giant cosmic two by four to the head. What will it take to convince the mass of us that what we've been doing isn't working? The blows will continue to come until we figure it out or we are swept off this planet. But there are signs of hope. It isn't just a bunch of 'crackpots' anymore that don't accept the conventional idea of our non-functioning agriculture and communities. Real, sensible people look beyond right now and don't like what they see of the future, if we don't have courage to act in even small ways, now, to change it.

Right now - here -- there is our farm. And a couple more that dare farm 'differently'. But I'd say we, and shall I narrow it further to say "I", am the only one to speak of a vision -- that where there is 1 farm today, there can be 10 in 5 years, and 50 in 20, and that our farms are intricately weaved into our cultural identity, we are respected and valued, not pitied and romanticized as the legend of the 'family farm' currently is. We will not be poor; we will not be viewed as 'farm hicks' not really of this world or community, but active leaders. Our future will be won when no one has to shrillly scream "No Wal-Mart!", but instead the entire community says "what point is there to a Wal-Mart here? We have what we want already".

So this is a pipe dream? Many will say that that accept what they are told, sit zombie-like in front of their bad news delivery vehicles: papers, TV, radio, and assume the world is going to heck. Why would they not? Why they would not would come to seeing -- to start -- a single happy farm family -- prospering, talking openly about ideas -- and succeeding far beyond the time when any curmudgeon's excuse will fail. "Sure their fields look green now, but...". "Give it another 3 years, they'll get tired of all the work", "they must be cheating for it to look that good". We've heard it all, but there is an energy -- a positive energy flowing out of us, out of our farm, of health, vitality -- of hope -- of wealth -- not necessarily of the monetary kind -- but as you investors in the scam market (stock market, did I misspeak?) know -- THIS is REAL wealth, not an illusion to be snatched away.

This dream takes years -- but the work has already started. First is to actually HAVE a dream -- a vision of the future to think about, but then to put forth both thinking and effort and words towards it. The initial investment for us has been in our soils. The money -- quite a lot of it -- towards minerals and 'fixing' 50 years of mining by well-meaning but duped farmers. We have now EXCELLENT fertility -- we have WEALTH in our soils, most of which other farmers would have a hard time grasping - or valuing. The only way they would, would be for us to fail, them to get our land, and for them to vaporize all the good we've done, have fantastic crops, not know why, for a period of time, before they mined it back to what the rest is. Huh. Guess it was a fluke.

Specifics of The Dream of this NE area of Stoughton:

- acquire a reputation for excellent farmers. "There's just something about those Stoughton farmers - they're happy, they're soils are great, their animals are happy, their farms are beautiful, it is such a treat to visit them -- those people that actually live by them are so lucky..."

Sorry folks, but it's going to require importing farmers. Farmers willing to learn. Young families that desire multi-generational legacies, and are willing to work - hard - towards it.

- a community of non-farmers that gets it -- and sees, understands and values the farming community -- and their own place in the larger community. Farmers working together to help each other. Neighbors helping each other. All of us understanding "love thy neighbor" doesn't mean we have to be best pals, but that we have to look out for each other and support "the bigger picture" of what's going on around us. Otherwise it is imposed upon us, and it will not be what we would want.

For example: Few people can afford land these days. The Few that can: Are developers. And developers develop, and that's not what people around here want. But they believe nothing can be done. Wrong answer. A community of people -- neighbors with a common interest in seeing our neighborhood survive, thrive according to OUR vision, not some developers: Each of us can contribute, say, $5000 into a REIT -- Real Estate Investment Trust -- which can then purchase strategic farmlands as they come for sale. Then the community of investors -- which is hopefully just the community -- in owning the property -- has the right to decide how it is used. Then the work will start:

- Make a plan for the land, with a mind towards beauty, recreation, habitats, ecology. And possibly development -- on our terms.

- Plant trees, encourage ponds/wetlands, not farm fencepost to fencepost.

- Be creative in gaining grants et al program monies for "doing the right thing". You'd be surprised how much is out there.

- engage an organic farmer longterm to improve the soil and bring visually interesting things to the land. Such as pastures, and animals. Give them the ability to make money; a lower rent for the first couple years, then a rent that everyone can live with, higher than the 'just farmland' price, to reflect the investment made. Everybody wins: farmers, investors, neighbors. How about that?!

And the community has an investment in the farms and land. Why, we had better purchase from those farms, and work on our investment, right? Right! Keep the money in the community, feed our community high quality food, give them a constant good feeling from their surroundings. What is that worth?

Neighbors of mine: There could well be such an opportunity that I know of. To start a new farm -- or should I say, bring a farm back from the dead. One farm - ours - does not a movement make. But two. Then a third, how long before there is a real momentum, a tipping point? Yes I know -- years away -- maybe even a generation away.

But the things we can do now - invitations from the community, to progressive farmers. We want you here. We'd like you to farm here. We have a plan. We know what we want this to be, and you're an important part of making that happen. We support our farmers, and they most surely support us. "mama isn't happy, aint nobody happy" -- mama nature aint happy, or farmers aint happy -- well, at least lets experiment with what if farmers WERE happy, HERE.

Folks, I read. I dream. I plot. I observe -- even and especially the enemies of the world we'd like to see. How do they do what they do? What if we used their 'tactics' for good instead of evil, to benefit the whole instead of the one? And the biggest what if we have: What if we gave a damn about each other and trusted each other and worked -- in this small way in this small place towards a better future.

So it's hard to shut me up, if you can't tell from what I've already written. Joel Salatin put it best, he describes himself as an evangelist. I would say so am I. It is easy to say of me, oh he's just so much talk. Funny thing, though, is I've been talking this same way since we moved to the farm, about what we were going to do here, with this farm. And funnier still, it's all happened as I said it would. LOOK at our FARM and see the words put into action. Now it's time to go beyond our farm. Same deal? He's just talk? I know what I'm capable of.

But what about this community, right here? What are you capable of? I can see the possibilities -- I saw it real clear during the August 2005 tornado cleanup. This community CAN come together, but it takes one helluva 2x4 up side the head to do it. And then the natural entropy is to drift back, leaderless, to our homes, our little world, life as usual.

How did you feel, folks? How did it feel to come together and know you were really making a difference, and you weren't running a tally in your head about who was doing what and who you liked and who votes different than you do, but you just for a brief moment, loved thy neighbor as thyself. How did that feel? How'd you like to feel like that all the time, only without having to have wholesale destruction to get it? Do you have the courage?


 
 

Spring!

I have several drafts awaiting one button click to have "the world" view them. Yet I hesitate. Heavy on the sermon, too doomy gloomy. And that's not me; even if what I say needs to be said. And then I think, are those that need to see it going to see it? Probably not. Change any minds? Nope. And who needs the preaching to the choir?

So at this point I won't preach. (well, much....)

I won't suggest what you can do.

I'm going to tell you what I'm going to do. And maybe you'll decide to tell me what you're going to do.

1. We are going all out this year; I am a contrarian in my entrepeneurial nature and rather than hold back -- as I can, mind you -- with the soil work I've done -- I have earned the right -- I am going all out. We desire to sit on one heck of a pile of hay come winter. Opportunities will be coming. The other side of the coin to having the ability to say, "no, I don't need a lot of fertilizer this year - yet I will still be fine" is "I am going to put down the fertilizer and reap the rewards of our soil stewardship" -- without damaging the soil, in fact, continuing to build the soil. We are rich friends. Soil rich. We have the freedom to do or not do. Most farmers do not have that choice. You and I both know what happens when you don't pound on the fertilizers and chemicals. You get jack squat. We do quite well, thank you very much. That's 6 years of excellent investment and soil stewardship.

2, Communicate with our neighbors. Yes, you folks just to the northwest of us. The truly Local. We have and continue to desire to be "your farmers". We would and could take less, give more, turn away far off customers to keep it local. Yet you continue to almost completely reject us. There is a certain matter of a Highway Bypass right through our farm and your neighborhood that may be the 2x4 upside the head for you to listen, even if it still is 100% in your self interest. Does it take a 2x4 -- or a tornado to pull this group together, or are we civilized, advanced enough to come together as a community? I will attempt to provide leadership. There will be resistance. There may well be a big fat highway right through here.

3. Continued learning. The more I learn the less I know. The more in wonder of it all I become. We will discipline ourselves to not run around like automatons and just do the work, but think about what we're doing. Activity is not Action.

4. Work towards energy independence. Our "5 year plan" must include our ability to say "NO, I don't want that, I don't need you." That is one heck of a bargaining position to be in. Solar (uh, beyond the huge grass solar panels we already have, 70 acres worth....) Wind, possibly geothermal, and conservation -- and a fundamental rule of our farm, let the animals do it, let nature do it.

5. With ANY success of #2 - work towards creating a community - here -- that would invite in farmers; change our thinking and welcome real farmers.

With that -- the physical and intellectual farming will come to some sort of level of comfort. The next levels of knowledge move into the ideas of community, and money. Think Woody Tasch and "Slow Money".

It is not audacious, it is not egotistical for me to think we are changing the world. We are; in some small way, and I believe for the better. The thing is -- so is everyone, everywhere, every minute of every day in the choices you make just in living. But is it for the better? Are you sure you can wait for "better times" to start?

Spring -- renewal -- second chances -- all of the hard winter is forgiven and forgotten in a few short days of warmth. The past is the past, what are you going to do NOW?

All the very best from Trautman Family Farm

http://www.trautmanfarm.com

Come check us out on Facebook as well -- Fans and Supporters of Trautman Family Farm, and "be my friend", Scott Trautman. I'd love to get to know you.


 
 

What about me, what about right now....

This was my commentary on October 15 2008, prior to this blog. I thought it should be repeated here, today. - Scott

"what about me, what about right now"

My first effort just about got uploaded to this page, but fortunately, I did not give in to my frustration, but let time and reflection bring me back to what I believe is my fundamental nature; that being a person of hope and faith in people. We are frustrated and concerned, and saddened when some customers tell us "they're watching their pennies right now", and that means back to the cheap food. We feel badly that we have not done our job of educating them of the value and importance of pure, quality food, and supporting, especially now, the farms that produce them. The stakes have never been higher. So instead of a rant, I say the following:

Thank you so very much for your business, and for your votes – your dollars, for our farm and our methods, and what we represent. 

In these trying times, it means so very much to us that you choose to spend your money with us, when there are so many choices out there, and the persistent message is one of “what about me, what about right now”, and it is so very difficult to resist.

We appreciate, and feel hope for the future, that even in trying times that you and others like you will value ours, and other local, sustainable, organic farm’s products, enough to continue to choose them, instead of retreating into cheaper, lower quality, less sustainable foods. Quality food from sustainable, local farms is not a luxury, but a necessity to change our own lives and the path of the world. Your choices reflect your true values in life, and we are proud and humbled to be a part of that.

We are confident that your reward will be better health and a better world. It takes courage and wisdom to make good long term decisions, and sacrifice today for a better future, even as those around us may tempt us and call us foolish. It is never foolish to look out for one another and work towards a better world. Our rewards may not be immediate, but they will come and they will be everlasting.

 Our individual and collective character isn’t determined when times are easy, but by the difficult choices and sacrifices we make when it isn’t easy.

 We have never and do not now believe, arrogantly, that you or anyone else should pay us any price, but that we owe it to you to be efficient and provide excellent value, and if we fall short of that, we do not deserve your business or your faith. 

Our gratitude to you will be to continue to work tirelessly, to work with you in providing value, and to be a beacon of hope with our farm, the values it represents, and to give unselfishly to others that would also make the world a better place.

At these frustrating times, rather than get sucked into the unfairness of it all, a pity party, negative thinking, I am reminded of how very grateful we are, especially to the following people who have given of themselves to our farm; with their time, and materials and money. I can't imagine how we would be where we are at without the help of these people, especially.

Bruce&Cindy Andre
Norm Bouchard
Joe Kester
Don Warren
Mike Logan+Family/Dan Utter
Dwayne Trautman
Richard Falkenstein
Art Johnson
Mike&Jeanne Cary
Gary Zimmer
Duane Siegenthaler
Eric Stokstad
Larry Johnson
Jeff Hougan
A Special thank you to Gary Hougan, previous steward of our farm
Muriel Plichta
Dick&Ardy Straub
Martha O'Reilly
MaryJo Fahey
Steven Wilson
Brad Jackson

Sincerely,

Scott, Julie, Ian, Quinn & Lilly Trautman

Shim the Bull

Our philosophy is "if the animals can do it, let 'em", and "the animals will always do a better job than we will". That pretty much sums up a bull. He has one really really important job: To make sure the cows are bred. Great work if you can find it.

Shim is a now 6 year old purebred Jersey bull. We bought him and brought him to the farm on October 9, 2007 to breed our heifers & couple cows. October 9 I know because it's Julie's (my wife) birthday. Some birthday present, eh? I am one suave husband.

We bought Shim from Art Johnson, who has a 32 acre grazing farm by Milton. I will surely write a blog entry about Art at some point, he is quite a character and a super person. Art's wife died 6 years ago now, so he's there alone, and he's in his 70's. He mostly raises bulls at this time, and Shim is a fine specimen of a bull; a son of Sambo, a quite famous bull that has had many daughters who have won many awards.

If you know anything about cattle, and bulls, and Jersey's, Jersey bulls -- the first words out of your mouth (to me) will be, Jersey bulls are the most dangerous bulls there are. Unpredictable. Vicious. Etc. And I believe they are indeed like that, and we treat Shim with great care. So no need to drop me a line about being careful. Being careful means always knowing where you are, the bull is, and making sure you have an exit plan. And having a stick of some sort in your hand is a must as well. Respect the Bull.

That all being said, Shim is a peach of a guy. He's past his macho years (2-4 years old), and into his middle age. Part of why he's such a swell is Art's handling of him since birth. Art talks to his cattle constantly, and works with them often. Shim is used to and has respect for people.He will do the whole macho thing of pawing the ground, but yell at him good and he'll stop and go on his way. A reasonable fellow

Did I mention that Shim still has his horns? And he knows how to use them like you and I use our hands. Why the heck does he have his horns? All the better to gore you with? Not according to Art; who believes in event of an attack, that he's going to get you one way or the other, that the horns are a useful grabbing point to keep him away from you. Now I'm not necessarily all in on that idea. But at 6 years old, not a lot I'm able to do about it. I would like Shim a wee bit more if not for the horns. But I have appreciated, too, that Art can throw a lasso over his horns quite nicely. I do rather enjoy standing on the other side of the fence in the parlor, and I'll go to scratch Shim and he'll nod his horns at me, which says, thanks but no. Touching the horns? He doesn't like that.

I get a chuckle out of macho Shim when he'll give a bale of hay what for. Uses his horns to scrape some out, invariably leaving him a rasta hat of hay.

My weird little deal is somewhere along the way I've decided that an Australian accent is my Shim & me voice. "Oooh yeah, you're a rough one aint you mate, yeah, that's right." Steve the Crocodile Hunter style.

So he goes in with the heifers on October 9. And starting July 14th (2 weeks early, but twins), 281 days later, the calves start a comin', with 92% within a 20 day window. 20 days is how often cows come into heat, plus or minus a couple days, so that's when Shim can "get them". So, it says good things for us that our girls were in good health and were able to be bred quickly, and for Shim as a bull that takes care of business.

We all know that the bull is the one that determines the calf sex. And we had 75% bulls, which, for a dairy farm, is going the wrong way. You'd be a lucky fellow indeed to have 75% heifers! (girls that is). So King Henry the 8th would have stayed at one wife if like Shim. We shall see how 2009 goes. He was in with the bulls later in October, and we've seen no heats in the cows, only one young heifer appears to have not caught on.

So what do most farmers do? Bulls are too dangerous and hard to handle, and limit their choices for genetic diversity. So they hire or AI (Artificially Inseminate) the cows themselves. Now that was going to be right difficult for the 2007 group of heifers, anyway, having been out in the field, and well, wild. The gals aren't exactly willing for a human to AI them like they are for a bull. The next big problem, even if they're in the stanchions in the barn, is detecting their heats. Humans: flawed. Bulls: flawless. They know, and since their right there, take care of business. Hence, the bull. Problem solved.

Unfortunately for Shim this will be his last year here; the following year he would be in a position to start breeding some of his own offspring, and that is of course not what you want. And we do desire genetic diversity, and towards some goals other than more Jersey. Our aim is to maintain about 1/2 Jersey in our crossbred cows.

So we will be looking -- and doubtful of finding -- a fellow as level headed and generally agreeable and capable as Ol' Shim. But I will insist that Shim go to a good farm where he will be appreciated as the fine fellow he is. He deserves no less.

Answers to a couple questions that come up about the whole...breeding thing...

Do bulls just "do it" to do it? They do not. It's because a cow is in heat or they don't. It's just a job to them. Okay, I'm sure there are some exceptions, and perhaps even the odd gay bull (okay now I've really lost a few of you haven't I), but as a rule, business use only. Harumph.

So how do they/us know when a cow is in heat? Cows in heat give off an odor that can be detected. If there is not a bull in with the cows, another cow will mount or the cow in heat will mount another cow to demonstrate being in heat.

Are you enjoying these little postings of mine? Drop me a line and let me know. Better yet, if you are in the area, come by the farm store and purchase some of our fine quality meats. You'll love them and my writing will be upbeat and fun rather than desperate and bitter. Not so entertaining my pretties.

 All the best for now,

Scott

The Shim-inator, December 2007.

PS: If you have seen and enjoyed the PBS Specials on Barns, you will definately have remembered Art; he's the one with the beautiful yellow barn, but he's the guy who's talking to his cows and bulls

Wisconsin Barns: Touchstones to the Past and
American Barn Stories and Other Tales from the Heartland

..by Tom Laughlin. You can buy these films at his website

http://www.koviaonline.com/order.html

 
 

It doesn't matter....

It doesn't matter what Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Chemical and the ilk do, that there's a giant conspiracy to control the seeds, the farmers for their profit.

There's nothing I can say that will change any of that. Beyond educating myself, it is a waste of my time to work over the same ground again and again.

It matters  that I am doing something about it in the small way that I can. As an organic farmer, I am proud -- and on purpose -- not supporting these companies in any way; as a farm producer or as a consumer. That is the only language, the only action that will end up mattering.

It doesn't matter that I can't make consumers see what I see, to really look to the long term and beyond "what about me and what about right now". Me screaming about it isn't going to change them.

What matters is that intelligent, thoughtful and caring people do eventually come to the conclusions themselves, as they do push away from the numbing TV, newspapers, radio, mass consumerism that is designed to control them, and ask themselves, is any of this making me happy?

We will be here when they do; to help and to guide their journey. Through real health, and real concern for our future -- especially our children -- that we will act and not complain, do and not excuse ourselves, take responsibility and not blame. We get what we ask for. Our words must match our actions. All of us build illusion in what we say but build conflict within ourselves by not matching words with what we do; the words cost nothing, action has a price we are often not willing to pay.

It doesn't matter every conspiracy, every effort at control, every evil is out to get us; as far as I can tell or care, every conspiracy is true.

But I always ask at the end of hearing about it, so what are you going to do about it? And the reaction is almost always the same. More talk about it, no action. It matters that life is short, and where we put our minds matters. If I have been given by God a beautiful brain with which to think, I do not honor God by using it to think angry inconsequential thoughts. I must use it to think constantly of new ideas for action -- to tirelessly work towards the change I want.

I have found that when I am frustrated with myself, when things aren't going that well with me, is when I allow my mind to "go there" and to massage, turn over and over, to dwell in the hopelessness of lack of control -- these powerful people, entities, governments, businesses, consumers, these stupid, evil -- you put the negative words to it, it's been thought a trillion trillion times, but how often are the thoughts put where they can do some good? Not a trillion trillion times.This putting of my mind in this place -- I take responsibility for it in recognizing that it is me I am angry with, that I project it out into the world and blame the world rather than take ownership of what I can within myself.

And it takes work to recognize these thoughts. And they are destructive to ourselves. And they are constantly reinforced all around us. See or read the news: What a terrible world we are in. In the advertisements we see every day: We cannot possibly be happy with whatever it is we have, no matter how much or little, it is and will never be enough.

It matters that I control my thoughts; that I control what goes into my head through my eyes and ears, and that I choose to surround myself with the positive rather than the negative, that the universe is a good rather than bad place. I choose to turn off the TV, put away the newspaper, turn away from people that only know how to complain, I am drawn to people of ideas, even those that differ from my own, I am not afraid of conflict, of honest discourse, I am not afraid to say I was wrong but now I know better. Pride makes us a slave, humility sets us free.

It doesn't matter that people will read this and laugh, think what a fool you are Scott, to think how you do, you just don't get it. You will get walked all over with this naive, wide-eyed optimism.

And you'd be right -- I have been walked all over in trust to those that don't deserve it. But I remember so clearly in my head; I don't remember when or where or who, but I do remember, a youngish person who had obviously just been yelled at by a boss, this person saying to me, "I can't wait until I'm the boss so I can be an asshole to everyone", and me thinking then -- and now, you so did not get the right message from that. And so I am tested -- do I become that which I detest, because then I'll get something more that way? The cynic pretends to be happy, content, their actions show differently. It will never be enough, you would never be treated well enough, respected enough, have enough.

It matters that I don't care what anyone thinks, and although I will be weak and give into anger and frustration, and lash out, I will always come back to this place -- in strength -- in my mind and in my heart, that the universe is goodness, that goodness is winning.

It matters that my intentions are to surround myself with like-minded people of hope and energy and that we will work together to do all we can do -- in our small way, we do big things. If it is only to change within ourselves, our family, our neighborhood, our town, our state, our nation our world. How do I really know that what I do won't change anything? That person I encourage today encourages someone else that encourages a group that gives hope to a nation and so on.

It matters that every moment of life matters, that life is too short. Use your time wisely, keep your mind on the positive. Do you own your thoughts or not? You do if you choose to.

It matters that we here on this farm in this moment are doing what we can -- in action, not words -- to make the world a better place, in whatever small way that is. We are being tested -- is this really what you want? Are you really willing to work that hard for this little? Don't you know how foolish you are to think you can do this? Don't you know how little people really care?

No I don't know any of that. It matters that we attract and surround ourselves with beautiful people that are making a positive difference in this world. And that our numbers grow with each minute in every day. That whatever happens is meant to be, that we are meant to learn the lessons of life in the way that we do; we can receive them willingly and early, or resist them and have them be loud and hard.

Scott

 

Postscript:

I choose to use my time in putting these words here. As a matter of fact, it is as much for me as anyone else. To put these words here is to take my mind there, and to write it down is to organize it in my mind. We struggle right now, I struggle trying to keep the "internal conversation" -- the thoughts going through my head -- to the constructive, to ideas that will help our farm, help my family, help the world, and not give into the destructive thoughts or the prevelant attitudes of the day, what about me, what about right now.

I've been blessed in so many many ways to have the defining experiences of my life that I have had; to be put in front of so many important and wonderful people, and have so many opportunities. I have, I will continue, to struggle as do each of us towards some ideal of happiness and contentment. And my next post I hope to spend the next couple days thinking about; in my travels, in my chores: while I milk the cows, while I fill the water, while I drive to here, that I'll fill that time with this vision of what will be. And I believe it will be: A paradise on earth, right here at this farm.


 
 

Team Trautman

"Family Farm" has, like so many other good things, had the good mined out of it for purposes of selling you something. Monolithic companies want you to be convinced that they are some warm fuzzy collection of family farms, when they have merely taken this good thing and used it only for their marketing -- hoping people will not check too closely, and just buy the warm image. Meanwhile family farms keep being eroded away by these same companies and their predatory practices. That's not what I want to talk about. But keep that in mind -- family farms are not dead -- but they need YOUR HELP NOW. - Scott

Well folks, ours IS that family farm you have in your mind -- it's me, Scott, wife Julie, and our kids - Ian 10, Quinn 8, Lilly 5 that are the heart&soul and labors of this farm. Here's the farm, here's the family, debate over.

This farm does not work if not for everyone pitching in. There is simply too much work to be done, too many things where one person cannot possibly do the thing alone, nor be timely enough to keep all the balls in the air. Each of us has our competencies, and our roles. We back each other up, we can do certain of each other's jobs, and there are those things that only that person can do. And the very best of things is "Team Trautman" jobs -- all of us together.

Team Trautman Jobs: Rounding up cattle that have gotten out of their area. We use polywire electrified fencing to keep groups of cattle in their areas. This fencing is easily moved from place to place for fresh grass or shelter. But on occasion something happens and that group of cattle gets out.

I can remember back to our first year with cattle: 2003, it was only 4 steers, and they were out A LOT, and we were complete nincompoops in handling them. Now, here 5 years later, it just isn't a big deal, and it's fairly rare that they're out at all. WE have changed most of all, not the cattle.

So we look out the window of our house and see some cattle outside their area. The call goes through the house, " OUT!". Might be "Little Steers!" or "Cows" or "Heifers", or horrors, "Pigs OUT!" (pigs aren't really that difficult but they aren't herd animals like cows, either). Whomever is there jumps to get their coat/boots on, we grab a roll of polywire string. It takes 2 people to operate a string -- one on the spool end, one on the end. We let out the spool, up to several hundred feet -- and get behind the group of out cattle, and then walk them back to where they belong. They respect the string, even if there is no charge on it. If we catch them early, they aren't very far from where they belong. The worst case is when they aren't even together as a group -- but have broken off in small groups. This is when it takes awhile to get them back in. Or get in the woods -- ahem -- a string is not possible in the woods, you need open spaces.

So minimum 2 people to operate a string. If only one? And it does rarely occur, well, different tactics necessary. Very difficult. 3 people is better, and 4 is great, especially if it's the crack Team Trautman group. Ian, 10, is now of a maturity and experience where it is effortless for him to join the group. Quinn, 8, is pretty good, but needs more guidance, and his personality is such that he can drift off into Quinn-land (just like dad can find himself in Scott-land). And even Lilly -- 5 - can help handle string.

Two people -- two points make a line -- we move the cattle next to the area they got out of. If some are still in, we have to leave it closed, so a person there to open the existing area string when we get the cattle back over there is useful.

"Be a post" -- we can get the animals next to the area where we want them, and either we have a plastic post in hand, and create a triangle (with area -- remember a line has no area -- very small geometry lesson here), attach each end of the string on the existing area string, open the old area up, and the cattle go back in. Be a post is that third point in the middle that makes it a triangle rather than a line.

We also use that triangle if we need to herd animals across the farm, to create a pathway, a big V, with which they stay in and we can navigate that wherever it needs to go. Otherwise, if only that line, we'll often use existing structures -- be they the perimeter fence, or a line of bales, or another string, to keep a wedge going.

We can always make it work with however many we have, but the more we have, and the better we're coordinated, the better it works. "Cattle out!", the orders fly -- Julie, you go get the string over by the shed -- Ian, go close the front gate and meet your mom back by the barn -- Quinn, you go over and put their old fence back up and prepare to open it, Lilly -- you unplug the fence and then find me. Lilly -- you're in the middle, Ian - go bring those two around back to the group. You get the picture. And bang -- 5-10 minutes later, everyone's back where they should be, no problem. A non-event.

We work together often -- so we know the job, we know how to communicate. Often it's a subtle hand gesture, hand signals we've practiced to know what to do when we can't hear each other, like around tractors. Could your family work together if they had to? Would they be in practice to be able to do it efficiently? Ours is, and it's because we have to be, and, because I think it's so very very cool and pleasurable.

Some of the warmest feelings of pride I have are when our family works together -- Team Trautman -- and I do say that on occasion to give the troops the reminder that we need to work together ("hey guys, I need Team Trautman today!"). In my upbringing, and many family's lives, there is probably teamwork between mom and dad (or not), but the kids, probably not. We cultivate and it is fact that we need each other, there is no point to individuals, we share, we work together, we're a team, and there is joy in our work. I take a special pride that my wife and I can work together - efficiently and effectively, without a whole lot of drama. (sure, some drama, but it's not MY fault, ha ha ha, oh yes it is)

A farm is good for that -- a family farm -- a farm like ours -- where it is designed from the ground up that we CAN work together. A giant grain farm, confinement operation -- are you kidding me? Keep the kids AWAY. Mom probably has very little to do with it. Hire someone as "labor". Man that sounds like work to me rather than the vocation that a family farm is to us. By design -- small tractor that our sons can operate, small animals like chickens that young children can safely be around, very mellow animals and teaching from an early age to respect and handle, say cattle and pigs. The Amish are experts at this -- training from an early age -- and we have learned this from them, and in the history and stories of what the family farm used to be -- is for us and others - and can still be.

We work in small teams -- like me & my oldest son Ian. Giving bales. One on the tractor (me), and Ian opens the electric fence to let me in. Rather difficult to do alone, given the cattle are standing just on the opposite side of the fence, and on the "out" side of the fence is their food, which they definitely want, and now. Loading straw bales in the bale chopper on the back of the little loader tractor, building up the bedding pack. Recently Ian was pleased to find out that he could do the most pushups -- by far -- of anyone in his class. Guess why? That's right, physical activity out on the farm -- moving bales around -- often about as big as he is. He's really good at using his weight to lever the bales where they need to go. What is your kid doing? Exercising his thumbs on the dumb machine? (computer games). Yes, our kids do that too, but we limit it. And it isn't kick them off that go sit in front of the dummy box -- the TV. I feel bad that too many kids don't have the opportunities ours do to be physically active, nor the will of the parents to have them be physically active. They will pay for it throughout their life.

Having a relationship with your kids is about spending time with them. We don't have the money or the inclination to purchase our fun, nor shuttle them to umpteen "activities" here there and everywhere, what we have are things to be done on the farm that need more than one person to do. I need help (which you may well take meaning beyond). It's in those moments that we work together that we talk about stuff -- what's going on, the questions of life, that just naturally occur. I can't make them happen, stuff them into a vacation or allocated "quality time", they just have to happen. And we get stuff done -- a very, very efficient operation the true family farm is.

Julie does the same -- she has a special bond with our daughter, Lilly. Lilly was born on the farm, she has been a little farmer all her life. That first summer she was born -- 2003 -- she was strapped to the passenger seat of the gator out doing chores with her mom. She helps mom gather eggs, hold string, whatever thing she can do to help. And as you can imagine, she is, for her age, quite good help, and is beyond many of her age group in her ability to understand and act on instructions. And because she has been around it all, I would wager she will pick up activities a good 2 years before where her older brothers would have.

Both Julie and I will "grab a child" and go to our chores. Or more than one. We'll split it up. Or send a couple children out with some chores they can do. They know they are important to our operation here. They are a part of it, and I dream of a day that they choose to be an adult part of this family farm. I admire any family that can work together. I know they must have done something right along the way to make the environment such that they can. That relationship can be many things; boss-employee, partners, and the boss can be the child or the parent. I dream of that day, way far away, when it's "Oh dad, we've got it covered, go play with your grand kids, we'll get this done".

Before you think this is some extended online bragging Christmas letter -- these relationships and activities have taken work, and haven't been without their frustrations and failures and conflicts. It is a work in progress. They get better in time through practice. I hope I get more patient and better to work with in time too. I have much to learn about patience and control (of myself).

This farm is a family farm by design -- on purpose for a long term goal.

This farm is an organic farm - supporting the long term purpose of sustainability - a hopefully multi-generational farm that through our success, our happiness, our ability to happily work together, our children will be drawn to this life.

This farm is a small farm, where children can be involved. We knew this was a startup business, and startup businesses of any kind -- much less the known work of a farm -- are long days. I've done it before, and I know it's 16 hour days. I was unwilling to do it at this time without my family - and miss out on those moments that pass so quickly in a child's life. Poof -- they're adults, where did the time go, where was I. I am here -- they are here -- we're together as much as is possible.

The work towards all this started on day one and was not an afterthought. I hope and pray for your family -- that you will find purpose, purpose in good, and find ways to work, live, love and laugh together as we do. May you have your own "Team Trautman" and know the life pleasures of your family.

Scott

Postscript, 12/6/08, 6:45am: Parenting in action, I just had a conversation with Quinn our 8 year old. I'm having to work on him to get him to be a willing and enthusiastic participant, in farm and home life and especially school. Nothing new there -- same issues at about the same age with his older brother Ian.

So Quinn has lately expressed that "Dad likes Ian better than me", and this morning, when I asked him specifically to be my "Right hand man" this morning, he tells mom "I did it the last couple times". So I had a parenting moment and went up to his room to discuss it with him -- and made my points of, No, I don't like our brother better than you, but that he's older and can do more things than you can and he has a good attitude, and "who cares?" if you did it the last couple times, we don't keep track around here of who does what when to keep even, we ALL help out as we can whenever we can, and finally, I asked YOU to help ME because I want to spend time with you and work with you so you can do the kinds of things your brother can.

So then I come here and write this -- while making some oatmeal, and the small act that proves the value -- his brother Ian hears the timer go off, rushes into the kitchen and takes it off the burner. No one asked him to, he just did it. That's the kind of team we're building here, and these are the moments of joy in paradise I am grateful for -- Scott

 
 

Rhoda the Wonder Cow (my first cow)

Rhoda is a 15 year old Jersey, with a little Holstein in her, 3 teated cow. She is my first cow; she came to our farm from my Amish friend Andrew Swarey by Dorchester in May of 2007.

Rhoda had been in Andrew's herd for a long time; she is a certified organic cow. I paid $500 for her; she was to be our "test pilot" cow for us diving into dairy. That's how we operate around here, dip in a toe, test the waters, then wade in a ways before we go all in.

We had no milking equipment ready the day she came. We had no facility to milk -- as I came to find very funny myself telling people -- milk cow. Now cow-s, but cow. As in "Time to go milk Cow". Well I STILL think it's funny. But as usual, we managed. We go from complete naivete, to adaption, to some kind of efficiency. Naivete - Guess what, cows don't generally just stand there and wait to be milked. There being in the pasture. In fact, Rhoda didn't even want to be caught, much less milked. Okay; so day one went by without milking her. Not good. With the help of our very good friend, and all around capable and inventive guy, Don Warren, we (or I should admit, he) lassoed Rhoda, and we put a halter on her, tied her up close to a post on the edge of the field, gave her some grain, and proceeded to milk her by hand.

To look at my soft white small hands, you would have to know I have not milked (many)(okay any) cows before. It is hard on the hands! It took a good 20 minutes and very sore hands later to feel like we milked her out good enough that first time.

I had borrowed an old portable vacuum pump (really an air compressor turned backwards: vacuum instead of pressure), and a bucket milker, which is a stainless steel bucket, around 5 gallon size, with a top on it and a device called a pulsator that would squeeze the teat cups on the teats of the cow to have her release her milk. But they were in pretty poor shape, and Rhoda came before I got them fixed. Well, the portable vacuum needed to be replaced, and waiting on it to be shipped to us. A couple days of hand milking.

Field Milking Rhoda

 Field Milking Rhoda

 

As usual, the 2nd day went better than the 1st, and the 3rd better still, although I was ...pretty much on my own. The deal was, to get Rhoda here in the first place, was, this is YOUR project Scott, YOU milk the cow. This from "the boss", Julie, Chief Skeptic & Keeper of Scott from Doing Crazy Things. So it would not be good for me to complain, so I didn't, but I sure was happy to have that portable milker. And by this time, she knew the drill, too -- that some grain was in it for her if she came up to be milked.

Most dairymen milk twice a day. Some even three times a day. Us? Once a day. It is not unheard of, and there is logic and reason to it I won't go into here. To say I didn't have time to milk once a day, one cow (for which the setup and cleanup are the same as to milk 10...or 100, is an understatement. But to milk twice a day, with the setup and cleanup taking far longer than the actual milking, well, that would be pretty crazy. (as opposed to "pretty crazy" to be milking at all, or milking only one cow)

When I talked to Andrew about getting "a" milk cow, to smooth the wife into this whole dairy thing, seduce her with the beauty of it all, I communicated the need for a friendly, easy to milk cow, great disposition, a cow easy to fall in love with. Well, didn't quite work out that way, at least to begin with. Rhoda knew early on that I was the "herd leader", but Julie, and the kids -- they were put on this green earth to be bossed around, and that she did. She was generally a menace to everyone but me. Which in it's own way endeared her to me, as I was "special" (as anyone who might know me might say with another meaning..."special"....).

So all spring I would milk her; I'd ask for and get a hand from one of the kids. There was the bucket milker to be sanitized, put together, the tools such as the teat dip, the curry comb (my touch), warm soapy water & wash clothes to clean teats, paper towels to dry the teats. It took about an hour start to finish. And Julie helped along the way, and stripped (squeeze the teats to get the initial milk flowing) and put on the milker.

We would drink the milk ourselves; boy it was good. Yep, unpasteurized, death-waiting-to-happen (so they say). I would call it a "Rhoda-Soda", a tall glass of cold milk, from a bottle with a nice 2 inch head of cream on it.

Rhoda was all by herself. Which we now understand to have been the source of ...most... of her "anti-social" behavior along the way. Cows are herd animals -- and especially if they have always been IN a herd, they act weird if they are OUT of a herd. What herd order? In the case of Rhoda, clearly a herd leader, who to boss around then? Well, not me, we'd established that <I> was the herd LEADER, but Julie & the kids? Well well, they could be bossed.

By late June, GJ, Maidengirl (GJ's Sister) and Baby GJ (GJ's daughter, we just call her "Baby") came to the farm from Richard's (see prior post about My Friend Richard). After some time, Rhoda was integrated with this group, and of course, Rhoda, being even the smallest of the group, took over leadership. GJ is about the most passive cow you'd ever meet, even being probably 1400 lbs vs. Rhoda's 900. Size doesn't matter: attitude does. With her finally being back into a "herd", even if it was only 4, she mellowed out some. I had been able to touch her all along since I milked her; I brushed her, complimented her on how nice she looked (girls do like that, even bovine ones) and generally made a fuss of her.

GJ freshened (had a calf & started to milk) August 11th; a beautiful bull we promptly named "Little Richard". Rhoda, being the bossy girl she is, and GJ being the passive cow she is, pretty much gave up her calf to Rhoda, who, being 14 years old, had had probably 12 calves but never been left to keep a single one (calves in dairy...except for a few Very Odd places like ours, are taken away right away from mom....I hate that with a passion), was getting in 12 calves worth of mommy-ing all at once.

GJ, Rhoda, GJ's (supposedly anyway) calf Little Richard 

When we were only milking a couple -- there were a few days where Rhoda was "difficult" and didn't want to come in, or be milked, or whatever, that we massaged some "hamburger"-like thoughts, and half convinced ourselves she "just wasn't working out", but like so many things, looking back, they were our problems, not hers, we weren't working things out very well, she was being....a cow...

We are now milking 22 cows -- and Rhoda isn't exactly the leader anymore, but if she has a chance to be the boss of anyone - of Baby and Maidengirl and a couple heifers anyway -- she does. Now Rhoda is more "in the lead" -- as in that nosey gramma-like person that always has to know what's going on and be at the front of the crowd. She always wants to be first for new grass, hay, to be milked. Very assertive that way. And eat -- she can really pack it in! Julie especially calls her "Rotunda" -- positively ROUND from filling up on as much grass or hay as she can pack in. That is a mighty good characteristic of a cow -- the more they eat, the more milk they give.


 GJ, Rhoda, Maidengirl's calf Karen Marie, and Little Richard

We had some trouble getting Rhoda bred; she is at this time in her 650th day of lactation -- almost two full years -- which is way too long. We didn't get the job done like it should have been. We use a bull, and Rhoda being old-ish has some old-person issues on occasion and weak hips kept her from allowing Shim the Bull to complete his work. But he did, this last spring, and she will have a calf in around February 20th. So we'll be drying her off here any day. She still gives a nice amount of milk; lots of butterfat & good protein, and low somatic cell count. We are really hoping for a heifer calf, to continue the legacy of Rhoda The Wonder Cow.

 

Rhoda in the new parlor, along with our daughter Lilly. And Bob from Tri-County Dairy in the background. This was day one for the new parlor - 8/27/08

Even Julie now is very fond of her, she is nice to all humans and that certainly helps. Or think of it as everyone's used to everyone's quirks and needs by now. We know how she is, she knows how we are, we get along.

I hope that she can be a productive happy member of our herd for many years yet. She is in good health, and could be around for 5+ years yet, before she's considered really old. For a herd like ours, that is. 5 years old is really old and worn out in many herds today, and that is sad because it doesn't need to be like that.

Come on out and see Rhoda the Wonder Cow and see what I mean.


That which is truly good (Repost from 2005)

 

This post from August 5th, 2005. Any of you out there that knows what happened in August of 2005 in the Stoughton area know what's coming up.

I mention "Authentic Happiness" by Seligman. That is a great book that effectively makes the case for optimism; it opens the door. The books that help me practice optimism are The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer & now Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff. I had the Power of Intention for some time, but could not get into it. When the time was right. And here recently with the economy, I needed to re-listen to the Power of Intention to get out of my funk.

 Here it is 2008 and I still feel the same way. Generally positive, with my moments of despair. Think about the good things, and forget the bad other than to learn from our mistakes. Have a great Thanksgiving, and do give thanks. - Scott

 

I've certainly had enough downer things here lately to bitch about, but I do believe I am a positive person, and in so, need to search that positive out. So this is that; things I am thankful for, and are truly good.

1. Getting by with a little help from my friends. In a time of need, you find out who's really a friend and who's not. I've had several, and some unexpected, that have given of themselves selflessly. Thanks Dan, Mike, Bruce, Mike, Dale. You guys live the faith beyond Sunday service. Thanks.

2. Healthy family, healthy animals. The worst of the pinkeye is over, and every calf is looking pretty darn good, even with this hot muggy weather.

3. More rain than most have gotten. A hard year could have been so much worse, and is far worse for so many. As dry as it might be, we have nothing to bitch about.

4. New customers and friends. It is so revitalizing to get to know you. I am fed by your positive energy and hope.

5. Always something interesting, something to learn. Never a dull moment.

6. For all the equipment that does work. Seems like it's always something, but so far, been able to keep the balls in the air.

7. For God to give me the strength to get through the tough times. As bad as I might think things are, I know so many have it so much worse. God has been kind to us in every way possible.

8. For my wife and children that bring me so much joy. They ground me and show me what is truly important in life.

9. For my health. A stubby finger slows me down. A fellow I know has been laid up on his back for four days now, getting nothing done. That would be devastating for us.

10. The wonderment that is nature, and the confidence that what we do and how is the right thing.

I credit some of my framework for positiveness to "Authentic Happiness", the book by Dr. Seligman, which put into focus strategies, such as this very effort, to keep a positive attitude, even when one could easily fall into despair & be just another whiner complaining about just how crappy everything is. It isn't, but I'm the only one that can make me live and believe that.

All the very best to all.
(now surely back to my whining...)

 
 

The Cow comes to the Rescue - by Jared Van Wagenen, Jr, 1922

I ran across this again and thought it would be a nice little pensive day brightener type of thing. 

 The Book is "The Cow" by Jared Van Wagenen, Jr., 1922
From the Steenbock Ag library, University of Wisconsin campus

"When the soil-miner has wrought his perfect work and the earth no
longer gives her increase-when seed for the sower and bread for the
eater grow scanty--then the cow comes to the rescue. From the
beginning she has exemplified the doctrine of soil conservation. Where
she makes the land her own, green carpets of pasture possess the
fields, alfalfa throws its perfume to the breeze and corn waves and
rustles in the sunshine. There great new barns rise in place of the
old, and white walled farmsteads speak of peace and plenty. There
contented farm folk found dynasties by striking the roots of their
lives deep into the soil. And of such is the Kingdom of Heaven"

 
 
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